Crash Course

Body and Collision Repair Tips

  • Your car is the second largest investment you’re likely to make. Preserve its value and your safety by having it repaired professionally.
  • Never drive a car that could be unsafe because of damages.
  • Some insurance companies may want you to visit their drive-in claims center before having your car repaired. You can do this, or you may leave your car at our shop and ask that the insurance company inspect the car here.
  • You are not required by law to obtain more than one estimate or appraisal.
  • You have the right to go to the repair shop of your choice. Your insurance company cannot require you to go to a particular shop.

Q: Can I take my car to the repair shop of my choice?

A: You have the legal right to choose a repair shop to fix your vehicle. When reporting your claim, immediately let your insurer know which shop you’d like to repair your vehicle. Your insurer should not attempt to influence your decision regarding where to have your vehicle repaired and is obligated to cover the reasonable costs of repairing your vehicle to its pre-accident condition no matter where you have it repaired.

Q: Am I responsible for obtaining more than one estimate?

A: Your insurance company may require more than one estimate before settling your claim. Multiple estimates help insurers determine the extent of your loss and prevent fraudulent claims.

Q: Can I have my vehicle repaired with original equipment parts … and will the insurance company pay for them?

A: If parts are being replaced on your damaged vehicle, your insurance company is required to pay for original equipment (OE) parts, unless you agree to aftermarket parts (parts not made by your vehicle’s manufacturer). However, your insurance company is only responsible for restoring your vehicle to the way it was before it was damaged. If your vehicle was not new at the time of the loss, the insurer does not have to pay for new OE parts. They must pay for parts of “like kind and quality” (OE parts of comparable age and condition). If you request new OE parts on an older vehicle, you may have to pay the difference.

Q: If I do not agree with my insurance company about the amount of damage, is there something I can do?

A: Yes. The insurance company is required to return your vehicle to the condition it was in before it was damaged. The company can either pay all costs to satisfactorily repair your vehicle, including all obvious and hidden damage, or they may offer a cash settlement to pay for the satisfactory repair of your vehicle. If you disagree with the insurance company about whether they have met their requirements under the law, contact the Department of Commerce Response Team. You may have the ability to pursue action in small claims court if you are filing a claim against another party’s company, or you can invoke the appraisal process (which is explained in your policy) if you are filing a claim with your own company.

Q: What is the difference between “betterment” and 'depreciation?' Can my insurance company reduce my settlement based on either?

A: Both terms refer to reductions in your settlement. “Betterment” means that your repaired vehicle is better than it was before it was damaged. Your insurance company can only charge you for betterment if the repairs increase your vehicle’s resale value over what it was before the accident.'Depreciation' refers to a reduction in your settlement based on the age or use of a part that is to be replaced. Certain parts on your vehicle have a 'life expectancy' and your insurance company may take this into consideration. For example, if a tire on your vehicle is expected to last 60,000 miles, but it was used for 30,000 miles at the time of the accident, your insurance company may elect to pay only 50% for a new tire. The company can also deduct the difference in cost if you insist on using a new part, rather than an available used part, appropriate for the age and condition of the vehicle.

Q: Do I have the right to a rental car?

A: If you have not purchased rental car coverage and: • You were responsible for the accident, you would not be entitled to reimbursement under your policy. • The other driver is determined to be liable for the accident, you would have the right to seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company If you have purchased rental car coverage: • You can file a claim with your own company for reimbursement, or • If you do not want to file a claim with your own insurance company and the other driver was liable for the accident, you have the right to seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company. Generally, you are entitled to a vehicle comparable to your own. However, in the case of certain high-value, high-cost vehicles, you may have to demonstrate your need for a specific replacement vehicle.

Q: How is the 'fair market value' of my totaled vehicle determined?

A: When an insurance company 'totals' your car, the company must pay you what the car was worth before the accident occurred. This amount is called the “fair market value,” and includes adjustments for the vehicle’s features, mileage and prior damage. There are several firms that evaluate and publish automobile market values (like the well-known Kelly Blue Book) and the results can vary. Whether the insurance company uses one of these evaluation firms or does its own evaluation, the method the company uses must be documented and must comply with the procedures described in the Minnesota Fair Claim Settlement Act. You can ask to see the evaluation and ask how the fair market value was determined. If this information is not provided at your request, or if you believe it does not comply with Minnesota law, you should make a complaint to the Department of Commerce. You should check with dealers, newspaper ads, used vehicle publications, and other sources to gather your own information on your vehicle’s fair market value to compare with the value provided by the insurance company. You have the right to negotiate with the company if you believe your car was worth more than what they offer.

Q: What if my insurance company tells me that I have to have my vehicle repaired at one of their preferred shops?

A: In the state of Oklahoma you have the right to have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice

Q: How long will my repairs take?

A: Each repair situation is different. It can depend on the severity of the damage, the parts availability, and additional hidden damages that may be found once your vehicle is in the shop for repairs. Your estimator will be able to help you determine the length of time your vehicle will be in the shop.

Q: What is a deductible?

A: car insurance deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward repairs before your insurance covers the rest.. For example, if you're in an accident that causes $3,000 worth of damage to your car and your deductible is $500, you will only have to pay $500 toward the repair.

Q: What is an appearance allowance?

A: An appearance allowance is when an insurance company allots money to the customer in order to keep a minorly damaged part on the vehicle. For example, if a hub cap is scratched in an accident, and the part still functions perfectly, the insurance company will pay the customer an 'appearance allowance' to keep the hub cap, instead of paying full price to replace it with a new one. Not all insurance companies practice appearance allowances. Check your policy to find out your insurance company's view on this topic.